Apolda, Eiermannbau

Apolda, Eiermannbau

Open Factory: Collective reactivation of a disused architectural icon

“The Eiermannbau is an iconic work of modernist industrial architecture that the IBA is successively developing as an own initiative. The intention is to demonstrate first-hand how vacant buildings can be revitalised and made habitable in imaginative, sustainable and reactivating ways. An innovative contractual agreement between the LEG Thüringen as the owners and the IBA Thüringen as the tenant allows the IBA to develop concepts for future new users at low risk until 2023. This approach, along with the fact that the building remains in public ownership, are important prerequisites for successfully developing structurally underdeveloped regions.”
Andrea Hofmann, IBA Thüringen Advisory Board

The small town of Apolda lies between Jena and Weimar and was an important industrial location for many decades. Textiles have been produced here since the beginning of the 18th century, initially stockings and later knitwear and hosiery. Very few of the 6,000 jobs that once existed in the textile industry survived after the reunification of Germany. As a result, many of the town’s larger production sites were abandoned, among them a factory building known as the Eiermannbau. Since 2018, the IBA Thüringen has been developing this industrial monument into an open factory.

The Eiermannbau is the only building designed by architect Egon Eiermann in Thuringia. Originally built as a weaving mill to a design by the Apolda architect Hermann Schneider, it was used as a factory for fire extinguishers from the 1930s until 1994. Eiermann extended the original building in 1938 and 1939, respectfully extending the existing building structure while also incorporating the functional and aesthetic requirements of his time. Egon Eiermann is regarded as one of the most important German architects of post-war modernism and was also a furniture designer and lecturer at the Technical University of Karlsruhe. Logic, purity and clarity were his architectural maxims.

Repurposing and development as an Open Factory

Largely unused since 1994, the Eiermannbau contains over 6,000 m² of floor space with around 2 hectares of surrounding land. The IBA Thüringen is reactivating the historical listed building according to the motto “How little is enough?” which also echoes Eiermann’s original design principles.

Over 20 international students and graduates used the Eiermannbau during the IBA Campus 2016 as a place to live, work and create. In the evenings it became a cinema, ping-pong club and much more.

In summer 2018, 50 creatives lived, learned and worked for a fortnight at “Hotel Egon”, the motto of the second IBA Campus in the Eiermannbau. During the 14-day design-and-build workshop they created furniture and unusual spatial experiences to attract and stimulate guests to engage with the building during the IBA Thüringen’s interim presentation year in 2019. The iconic roof terrace of the Eiermannbau was also furnished as part of the summer campus.

Based on a specially developed financial model and use concept for an Open Factory developed in 2016, the LEG Thüringen acquired the Eiermann Building in December 2017. An innovative contractual agreement between the two state-owned companies allows the IBA Thüringen to act as project developer until 2023, an approach that has the potential to serve as a model for tackling vacant properties in other areas.

Initial uses and conversion concept

The IBA Thüringen is the developer and placemaker of the Eiermannbau, and also the first of the new users to move into the industrial monument in summer 2017, albeit initially only temporarily. The intention was to motivate other users to discover the factory and make it their base. To this end, the IBA developed a prototypical conversion and use concept for 750 m² of the Eiermannbau from February to October 2018. In autumn 2018, the IBA team moved into their new premises, which feature cost-effective, functional and at the same time stylish greenhouses that serve as offices on the first floor. A self-build instruction kit has since been published by the IBA for others to emulate. This house-in-house approach makes it possible to have two different room climate zones to ensure that the spaces can be used all year round.

The IBA office is an experimental pilot project that champions simple solutions. One of its key aims is to serve as an example for other users. Its self-build approach sets new standards for ways of using and adapting existing buildings, proposing different intensities of use and alternative approaches to room climatisation. It has rapidly become an inspiring work and event location for the IBA team and its visitors. In 2020 the IBA office was nominated for the German Architecture Museum’s DAM Award 2021.

In the coming years the entire site, including two buildings with a gross floor area of around 7,500 square metres and a two-hectare plot of land, will be developed and expanded step by step. Grant funding amounting to 5.31 million euros from the Federal Ministry of Building as part of the National Urban Development Projects programme has been secured through the town of Apolda with the support of the IBA Thüringen, and will be used to implement measures to enable sustainable use of the building as an open factory and to ensure good accessibility to the site. The Eiermannbau is owned by the State Development Corporation (LEG) of Thuringia, and the IBA is its first tenant. It will continue developing the former fire-extinguisher factory until the final year of the IBA Thüringen in 2023. The IBA Thüringen is working hand in hand with the city of Apolda and the LEG Thüringen to develop the site.


Momentan keine Termine

Auenstraße 11
99510 Apolda

Reichmann Gebäudetechnik, Bad Berka
Zehnder Group Deutschland GmbH, Lahr (Vertrieb Erfurt)

  • Building and construction of IBA greenhouses:
  • Students of the Bauhaus-University Weimar
  • Tobias Grabowski
  • Hannes Heitmüller
  • Simon Martini
  • Nicolas Schüller
  • Till Teubner
  • ​Katharina Wittke
IBA Project Coordination

Katja Fischer
Project director
Telefon +49 3644 51832-11

Christoph Grube
Project Collaboration Open Factory
Telefon +49 3644 51832-04

Dorothee Schmidt 
Renting and Marketing 
Telefon +49 3644 518 32-06‬‬

Alexander Stief
Project Collaboration Open Factory
Telefon +49 3644 518 32-03

Links / Further Information about the Project Process